The Time We Were Hemingway

I had to miss the class walk on the day I went to London, so yesterday (Saturday) Teo repeated the walk for those of us who missed it. It was nice to be in a smaller group of about 12 students, so we all kept together.
The walk was sort of near Odeon, first to a church that was turned into a meeting club during the French Revolution.

We walked by the University of Paris, Sorbonne, which Teo said is like the second tier after the doctor and engineering schools. He said the universities are super affordable, less than $400, but everyone has to take a huge merit exam that determines which school you go to. It’s funny that in the US, our universities have some of the nicest architecture of the city; here, they just blend in.

The pantheon is around the corner.

The next stop was the church where Clovis and Pascal are buried. It’s called Saint-Étienne-du-Mont; we stopped inside but a mass was going on, so we couldn’t venture to the back area. However, this church was actually unique from other churches, as it had gorgeous white spiral staircases in the center that reminded me of bone or shell skeletons.

 

Since we were near Hemingway’s house by now, Teo told us that he used to walk down this street and drink and write in the cafés nearby. All 12 of us sat down in one of the cafés (Le Contrescarpe) and a third-party unaffiliated with UCLA (definitely not Teo) bought us all small beers so we could be like Hemingway.

 

(Too bad I don’t care for beer, so another student finished mine. It was a cool experience so now I can say I drank where Hemingway did.)
We continued down Rue de Mouffe as the locals say, where all the stores were open for the market for lunch. This is where our walk ended, but several of us stayed around to look at the bakeries and jarred goods and cheese shops and seafood. I got a sandwich jambon from a popular bakery, which was amazing on very chewy and tough bread (but not stale, of course) with a good helping of mayo.

The desserts looked so perfect and glazed, but I wasn’t hungry enough for one. I was experimental, though, and tried some bits of fried dough with powdered sugar, which I thought would be like funnel cake but were more dense and crispy than chewy and soft. I didn’t finish them – I didn’t like the bland taste nor thick texture.

 In the afternoon, after a little resting time, I went to Pierre Herme to try their macarons – two of them, Jasmine and Chocolate/Passion Fruit, to be exact. Laduree and Pierre Herme are the best macarons in Paris, so you have to have a taste-off to see which you like better.

The verdict: Pierre Herme! Though I liked Laduree’s tea flavored macaron, the textures were better at Pierre Herme. They were slightly chewy with more quantity of creamy filling. The chocolate/passion fruit was my favorite of all (read: about five places) I tried in Paris – a little sour but rich and sweet too, like other fruit/chocolate combos you can get in the US.

Tonight was our class’s formal dinner, so we all went to a restaurant near the Seine by Notre Dame at 7:30. Walking from the metro to the restaurant was a gorgeous scene – the light an hour before sunset was golden. The beams that reflected off the river were blinding as we all walked in our semi-formal attire to fit into a 40-person room.

After the entree of salad, we got our pre-ordered plat between vegetarian, fish and duck. The duck comes in a huge pot of four servings, bathed in a tasty prune sauce. There were chunks of plum skins and duck skins in the broth, oozing flavor. It was so tender and went well with the great, soft (almost soggy) French fries.

It was hot in the room with 40 people and no air conditioning, but I still enjoyed the meal. I talked with two girls about how there are so many different personas of Paris when we hear the name. You can think of the Paris that’s stated under the designer labels, or the Hemingway idyllic Paris, or the more city-like cosmopolitan Paris that we live in. The connotations when someone says “Paris” are so varied, but I want to understand them all. But I digress.

The chocolate tart dessert came with like a melted vanilla ice cream – some people thought it was too much chocolate but there is no such thing. We ended dinner with the story of how Teo met his wife, to conclude a wonderful night in the city.

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